Just February, emerging illustrator Eero Lampinen joined our roster, and today we’re proud to announce that illustrator and comics artist Kati Närhi has also joined our fold!

Kati Närhi is a Helsinki-based illustrator, graphic designer and comic artist. Graphic Designer Närhi graduated from The School of Arts, Design and Architecture Department of Media in 2001. From 2002 to 2012 she worked as an Art Director in the marketing department of the Stockmann department store and fashion chain. Her published works include three graphic novels and a book of illustrations. Närhi’s latest graphic novel Mustasuon mysteeri (“Mystery of the Black Swamp”) was a nominee for the national Sarjakuva-Finlandia comics award in 2013.

Check out Kati’s portfolio and read more about her in the interview below.

Could you please tell us a bit about your background. How did you become an illustrator?

I have always drawn a lot. As a child I entertained myself by drawing pony and vampire comics. I was also interested in literature, so after high school I studied literature and aesthetics in the University of Helsinki. All through my studies I drew comic strips to my hometown’s newspaper. In the University Drawing School it finally dawned to me, that I wanted to express myself through visual arts rather than literature, so I applied to the School of Arts, Design and Architecture to study Graphic Design. In the art school I was most excited about illustration courses.

Please describe your technique. Do you have specific methods and what stage do you like most?

I start by drawing with Illustrator. Then I create different surfaces with watercolours, acrylic paints, pastels and such. I scan the surfaces and paste them to the Illustrator images. Finally I finish everything in Photoshop. What I enjoy most, is coming up with something new, whether it is a strange but effective new colour combination or a pattern.

What do you like most in being an illustrator and what do you find most challenging?

I’m allowed to use my imagination. That is the best. Keeping one’s inner critic at bay is for me the most challenging part of the job.

You have published 3 graphic novels. Is there a common theme in you comics?

There’s perhaps a certain mixture of black humour and naivety in all of them. However, my comics aren’t really one-dimensionally comical, and there’s usually a grave undertone present. For some reason the style of my comics is darker and more gothic than the style of my illustrations.

What kind of surroundings do you work in?

Me and Helmi Sirola share a studio in Kallio neighbourhood of Helsinki.

What are your interests and do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy reading and watching films. I have this useless talent of being able to remember actors and actresses – even minor ones – from age old films. I’m also interested in music and fashion. I’m a kind of a serial beginner of sports: I have tried out for example boxing, adult ballet, yoga and horseback riding, and my latest fling is fencing.

What would be your dream job?

I’m a candy maniac, so I would love to illustrate candy boxes or wrappers.

Would you like to see illustrations used more commonly in some context?

There could be more illustrations in packaging. When abroad, I always collect nice cookie, tea and chocolate boxes. Back home they end up gathering dust in the corner, but I don’t dare to throw them away.

Kati Närhi’s 6 current favourites:

Record: Kate Bush: Hounds of love
Writer: Haruki Murakami
Exhibition: Fashion photographer Tim Walker’s Storyteller exhibition in Somerset House, London Film: Singin’ in the Rain
Artist: Yoshimoto Nara
City: London, England